One day I remain hopeful that I will appropriately handle all comments and questions that strangers bounce my way regarding Oia. Just when I think my skin has thickened, I learn that I still have a ways to go. Some days the questions and comments bother me, other days they don't. I suppose it all boils down to the delivery of the question and of course my mood or attitude at the time. Even the seemingly small inquires sting a little simply because they involve the very innocent and naive being that I live my life for and they serve as tiny reminders that we are just a tad bit different than the rest.
Girl: Why are her eyes so kooky?
Oia: (smiling and oblivious to the question and the choice of word "kooky"; reaches out to hold Girl's hand)
Me: Well, I think her eyes are fine. She just has to wear glasses to help her see better.
Girl: Can she really see?
Me: Of course she can. Do you know of anyone in your family who has to wear glasses to help them see better?
Girl: (in deep thought, eyes staring up as she thinks for a minute)
Me: You know, maybe your mom or dad, or grandma or grandpa?
Girl: Um, well, my mom and dad don't wear glasses but I think my grandpa does.
Me: Well, there you go! Oia is just like your grandpa then!
Girl: (satisfied with my answer, smiles and skips away)
Another girl later in the day runs waving by Oia and I. I smile, wave back, and say "hi". After she passes us, she has what seems to be a second thought, then turns around to inform me that "She's drooling" as she points to Oia. I assured her it was okay and that I knew of it and then mentioned to the girl that sometimes that happens. She, too, was satisfied with my answer and continued bounding about.
These are harmless incidents, all coming from very innocent places within these children. I begin to feel the sting, though, when I think about the day that Oia will not only hear these words but understand them too. What will the day be like when I'm not there, holding her hand, as I answer these questions for her? Will she be able to speak up and make a respectable stand for herself? Will they bother her like they sometimes bother me? Oh, I can't even think about it...
But then, there are those who have the power to erase all sad thoughts that fester after these random tests of strength, like the elderly man I noticed staring at Oia in the post office this afternoon. Here we go again, I thought.
"She has a precious smile", he says.
"Oh, thank you. Thank you for noticing. I think she does, too."